We are fortunate in New Zealand to consistently rank at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Since its first release, we have scored at the top or within the top three countries in the world. But what does our ranking mean? And why do we measure ‘corruption perception’?
To raise awareness about corruption around the world, Transparency International annually publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index. First published in 1995, the CPI is widely credited with putting the issue of corruption on the international policy agenda.
We can’t measure absolute levels of corruption, but there are tools that measure perception and experience. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries by how corrupt their public services are perceived to be. It is not a measure of corruption in the country as a whole.
The Corruption Perceptions Index sends a powerful message, because there is a correlation between a higher CPI rank and higher long-term economic growth. It also gives the global community one measure of the harsh reality for many people around the globe. The overall low score of most countries reveals that their continued failure to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world.
The index uses corruption perception data collected from 13 different sources from 12 separate institutions over the previous two years. The indexes are combined to rate each country on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). In the most recent index more than two-thirds of countries rank below 50, with an average score of just 43.
New Zealand’s 2021 score is 88/100. This places New Zealand alongside Denmark and Finland, as the three countries with the lowest level of perceived public sector corruption.
The scale is a useful way to compare year-by-year progress.
In New Zealand, bribery and corruption are not ingrained in our daily lives as they are in so many other nations. We enjoy a better quality of life because of it. Additionally, a high level of trust helps our country benefit economically. We enjoy lower contracting costs for business, and bribes and facilitation payments are rare. Having said that, our score has dropped from 91 in 2015 to 88 in 2021.
We have more work to do to dissuade individuals and organisations from breaking or bending the rules for personal advantage. Having strong integrity systems in the public and private sectors helps to counter corruption.